When I was fifteen years old, my dad won a video camera in a corporate golf tournament. I snatched it from his closet and began filing skateboard videos with my friends - Steve-O
Before the internet changed the world, for the lonely skaters who grew up far from the madding crowd and came of age in rural backwaters where skateboarding was often seen as being an idle and useless pursuit, there were only two ways to discover what was happening just over the skating horizon; Thrasher magazine skateboard videos.
We stumbled across the names and faces of the skaters who were pushing the limits of what you could do with four wheels and a deck in the pages of the former, but we saw them in action and learned everything that we know about street, vert, and trick skating by watching each and every skateboarding video that we could lay our eager hands-on.
Skateboarding videos weren’t just our passion, they consumed our every waking moment and every trick and move that we saw Jason Lee, Mark Gonzales Rodney Mullen, Lance Mountain, Rob Dyrdek and a cast of a thousand others do, we had to attempt.
They were a way of life and introduced us to a culture that up until that point, had seemed far away and alien to us, and set us on a path that we’re still following to this day.
Besides, if you’re ever feeling flat and down and can’t figure out how to find your motivation and your get up and go, there’s no better way to get inspired and rediscover your inner fire than watching some of the gnarliest skaters who have ever laced up a pair of Converse jump on their boards and explode into action.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of forty of our favorite, and in our humble opinion, the best skateboard videos ever made.
This is the footage that made us want to try the impossible, these are the skaters that changed the deck riding world forever and these are the videos that inspired us, and every other generation of skateboarders to get up, try again and adopt and follow a simple code.
To get radical or die trying. Forget fear, embrace the good times, and press play…
The Bones Brigade Video Show
Even though the short film that won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Skaterdater is officially recognized as being the first skateboarding movie ever filmed and shown in public, the first skateboarding video and the film that changed everything was the Bones Brigade Video Show that was recorded, compiled and edited by former Z-Boy and Bones Brigade founder, Stacey Peralta.
It was the first video that most skaters saw and introduced the world-famous Bones Brigade to the global skate community.
Tony Hawk made his film debut in the Video Show, as did Steve Caballero and Rodney Mullen, and this humble little movie shot on a cheap VHS camera turned the skating world on its head overnight.
And let’s not even get into the music that pumped up the soundtrack and pushed the viewer’s adrenaline levels into overdrive, and helped to cement the long-standing partnership between underground music and skating.
You never forget your first time, and for us, this has always been, and always will be the alpha and the omega of skateboarding videos.
The Search For Animal Chin
The third full-length Bones Brigade video, The Search For Animal Chin is almost certainly one of the most beloved skateboarding road movies ever made.
Not only does it focus on the team (who at the time of shooting also included Lance Mountain, Mike McGill, and Per Welinder) pulling off insane pool tricks, but it also culminates in one of the best examples of early eighties vert skating.
It’s also the first “scripted” skateboard video and features a plot that centers around the Bones Brigade searching for a mythical figure who holds the secret to all skating wisdom, Won Ton “Animal” Chin. Do they succeed in their quest?
You’ll have to watch the video to find out and you won’t be disappointed if you do, because it still holds up and includes some of the craziest skating ever captured on celluloid.
And if you’re wondering where the name of the video came from, it’s the result of a restaurant accident that occurred when director Stacey Peralta and scriptwriter John Smythe were having dinner together.
As much as we love the early Bones Brigade videos, Ban This always resonated with us, as it captures the way that the general public felt about, and the ill will that they had toward, skaters at the time.
The world was a different place when this video appeared in nineteen eighty nine, and when we saw the Brigade suffering the same kind of abuse that we were, and ridiculing it for what it was, it just made us want to skate harder and be better than we were.
It also includes crazy, slowed-down footage of Tony Hawk pulling off some of the finest moves in his arsenal which we spent hours pouring over in an attempt to perfect some of the absolutely mind-blowing moves he’d invented and perfected.
And as added bonus, ‘Ban This’ is the skating world’s equivalent of a Lance Mountain (we worship at the altar of Mountain, and once you’ve seen him doing what he does best, you will too) highlight reel, and if you want to get back to basics and climb to the summit of the skating mountain, just watch Lance making it look far easier than it actually is.
Shackle Me Not
After following Stacey Peralta’s career and watching him found Powell Peralta, Swedish professional skater Tony Magnusson followed in his footsteps and started H-Street.
Magnusson also wanted to push his brand and decided that the best way to do it was by filming videos like Peralta had and was continuing to do, but without the sort of budget that his idol had, Magnusson, had to rely on the skaters that he signed to carry his debut video,
And in Shackle Me Not that’s exactly what they do, as the team which included Magnusson, Brian Liotti, Dave Sornson, Jeff Klindt, and the fourteen-year-old (at the time) skating wunderkind Danny Way smash their way through some of the craziest street and vert skating that you’ll ever see.
Less than a year after they released ‘Shackle Me Not’ H-Town decided to push the skating boat even further and filmed and released Hokus Pokus which featured an increasing roster of skaters (among others, Ben Cobb, Danny Way, Kien Lieu, Matt Hensley, and Sal Barbier are all seen grabbing board and air time) and was seen as being a much more direct challenge to Magnusson’s idol, Peralta.
The real reason for this video’s infamy though is Dave Graves, who pulls off a move that shook us to the core of our skating foundations back then and continues to rattle us to our core to this day.
Graves attempts and pulls off a three-sixty flip down a set of stairs, and even at our skating bravest, we were never courageous enough to even think about imitating him. Seriously, watch Dave do it and you’ll see what we mean.
Mark Gonzalez, Spike Jonez, and Jason Lee. It’s a skating and Hollywood marriage made in heaven.
Originally shot by fledgling director Spike Jonez, Video Days was supposed to be a promotional video that introduced Gonzalez’s company and team to the skating world, but as is often the case, it took on a life of its own.
Lee and Gonzalez are in the prime and deliver a skating masterclass that’s rarely been equaled and has hardly ever been bettered.
It also became Jonze’s calling card and as well as establishing him as a rising star behind the camera, pushed his subjects to the forefront of the skating scene and helped to put Blind on the skating map.
Honestly, it was hard to keep track of the number of skateboard companies there were emerging from, and disappearing back into the wilderness at the tail-end of the eighties and the beginning of the nineties, but after watching Memory Screen it was impossible to forget Alien Workshop.
Some skaters didn’t like it at the time as it adopted a left-field approach to editing and did its own thing rather than trying to emulate Peralta’s formula, but we loved it when it hit the shelves in nineteen ninety-one and we still love it to this day.
Why? Because it introduced us to some of our favorite skaters like Rob Dyrdek, Bo Turner, and Duane Pietre and captured them doing what they loved to do, skating hard, fast, and well and highlighted some of their signature moves.
And yes, you’ve guessed correctly, we did spend far too many hours trying to imitate everything that we saw them doing on screen.
Remember when we mentioned skating superstar Danny Way earlier? He was one of the riders responsible for putting this company together along with the legendary Z-Boy Rodney Mullen and genuine four wheeled legend Colin Wray.
Questionable was Plan B’s statement of intent and their way of letting the skating world know that they had arrived.
And that’s exactly what it did. Alongside the aforementioned trio, ‘Questionable’ featured a veritable who’s who of skating talent in a high energy display of prowess that is as beautiful and captivating as any ballet.
Credited with opening the door for the modern skate scene, ‘Questionable’ is still one of the most amazing displays of on-screen skating talent that we’ve ever seen.
In nineteen ninety-one, Natas Kaupus and Steve Rocco founded 101 Skateboards and proceeded to take skating and art to a new level of intensity by releasing some of the most mind-boggling and jaw-dropping skateboard videos that anyone had ever seen.
Snuff seemed to be on a constant loop in our local skate shop, but it didn’t matter how many times they played it, we just stood there watching it over and over again.
Jason Dill raised everyone’s skate game by showing us what could be done with a little imagination, reckless abandon, and a skateboard. And he’s primarily the reason why everyone remembers and still loves ‘Snuff’
There’s an old 7 Seconds song that we first heard a skatepark called ‘Not Just Boys Fun’, and when Megan Baltimore founded Girl Skateboards with Spike Jonez and Mike Carroll back in ninety ninety-three, she finally added skateboarding to the list of things that the 7 Seconds song should have included.
Mouse gave Jonez a chance to pick up his camera again and get back to doing what he loved to do best, combine story and skating in a loosely scripted tale that features a list of celebrity skaters pushing hard and fast on the street while having far more fun than anyone should in a series of laugh out sketches and skits.
A perfect combination of humor and skating, that captured the duality of skateboarding, ‘Mouse’ is a longstanding favorite of ours and a skateboarding classic.
Welcome To Hell
Less than three years after he founded Toy Machine, professional skater Ed Templeton used his company to release what many skaters see as being one of the definitive blueprints of the modern skating scene, Welcome To Hell
A flawless combination of music and cutting-edge skating that introduced us to Elissa Steamer who made mincemeat of the most male skaters in the video, ‘Welcome To Hell’ also served as a full-color skating knockout punch delivered by the aforementioned Templeton.
We still wish that we had a fraction of this man’s talent, and everything that he could, and can do is captured forever in ‘Welcome To Hell’.
Underachievers wasn’t a brand-specific video, it wasn’y filmed to promote a brand and it wasn’t made to showcase a team’s talents.
It collected footage of some of the East Coast’s (New York, Philadelphia, and more) most underappreciated late nineties skating talent raising the roof and skating hard.
Featuring Tom O’Connor, Jahmal Williams, Ricky Oyola, Jerry Fisher, and more, it’s a video that’s dedicated to the beauty of movement and the skill of the skaters that make it what it is.
It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel or be anything that it isn’t, it’s just a gorgeous skateboarding video that makes you want to get out and hit the streets with your deck.
The title might not be the most inventive that you’ll ever stumble across in the vast and varied universe of skateboarding videos, but it does describe exactly what this video is all about.
A celebrated team-up featuring the World Industries, Blind, and 101 squads tearing the streets up as only they could, Trilogy was, and still is, any serious skating fanatics fantasies writ large on videotape.
Starring the cream of the crop from the stables of all three brands it’s a raging display of barely contained skating talent in which each and every four-wheeled warrior desperately tries to outdo each other.
It isn’t about competition, it’s all about every skater bringing their A-game and showing the world what they could do. And it is absolutely magnificent.
Fulfill The Dream
Every serious skater knows who Shorty’s are, and most of us have used some of their gear in our deck setups at one time or another.
Fulfill The Dream was one of their earlier team videos that just so happened to coincide with Chad Maska leaving his former sponsor and team, Toy Machine, and joining the Shorty’s brand.
Now, we’re not trying to imply that it was Shorty’s or Maska’s attempt to score points against Toy Machine, as it could all have been a matter of timing, but whatever the reason for ‘Fulfilling…’ hitting skate stores was, doesn’t really matter. A
ll that does matter is that it’s a raging display of skating talent and ability showing the rest of the skating world what they could do that was captured on celluloid for posterity. If you want to up your skating game, spend a couple of hours breaking this video down, Frame by frame. It’ll be worth it.
Founded by professional skater Jamie Thomas to combat the mediocrity that was becoming part and parcel of the skating world, Zero was originally a clothing company until their founder bit the bullet left Toy Machine and rededicated Zero to all things skateboarding.
Zero’s second full-length video, Misled Youth is their mission statement and serves as their declaration of skating independence.
Driven by an unrelenting energy and pounding soundtrack, it doesn’t pull any punches and isn’t afraid to show those moments when things can, and do go wrong.
But for every mishap, there are a hundred successes and as a showcase for Thomas’s staggering talent and unwavering ability to select only the cream of the crop to wear his brand’s colors, it’s an unmitigated success.
And it is, in our opinion, Zeros finest video moment.
This Is Skateboarding
Again, it’s another title that tells you all you need to know about the show that you’re going to witness - it’s all about skating.
Emerica is and always has been a clothing and footwear brand dedicated to skating. It was founded by skaters, so the folks in charge know a thing or two about the art of skateboarding, and This Is Skateboarding proves that beyond any shadow of a doubt.
Despite the fact that it features a wealth of skating talent, including Toy Machine’s Ed Templeton, ‘This Is Skateboarding’ is stolen by the eye-popping display of skating insanity that the then seventeen-year-old Bryan Herman pulls out of his bag of tricks for the camera.
When we sat down to watch it just before the dawn of the millennium, Herman made us want to throw the towel in, because nothing we would ever be able to do could compare to what he was doing in ‘This Is Skateboarding’. Get ready to be amazed…
We know, the star of any Birdhouse show is always going to be its owner and founder Tony Hawk, and while that’s certainly true in The End, but at least Jamie Mosberg’s film gives some other skaters who rode for the brand, namely Andrew Reynolds, Rock McCrank, Steve Berra and Willy Santos a chance to shine and have their moment in the skating video sunshine.
Famous for being the first skateboarding video with a million-dollar budget, ‘The End’ is more than worth three-quarters of an hour of any skater’s time, and it’s a dazzling display of what can be done with a lot of money and a lot more talent.
Transworld was a skating magazine that always seemed to be nipping at the heels of Thrasher, and while it was more mainstream than its rival, for thirty-six years it carved its own path through the skating world.
Modus Operandi is a testament to everything that the magazine was, and will be remembered for being.
It’s all about the skating and captures Marc Johnson, Mike Carroll, Brian Anderson, and Chany Jeangeunin in full flow, and every single time we watch it we just want to get outside and skate.
We may not have been fans of Transworld (we’re Thrasher people, we always have been and we always will be), but watching this video, we can’t help but feel a little nostalgic for the past.
You know what they say about never missing something until it’s gone? They’re, whoever they are, absolutely right.
Es considers all of their customers and everyone who has ever worn any of the skate shoes to be family, and that’s what this skateumenatry feels like.
Menikmati was filmed all over the world and feels like a company trying to spread its positivity and message of skating solidarity everywhere it can with a little help from the members of its team and sponsored riders.
The skating is unreal, and you’ll be just as amazed as we were the first time that we pressed play on this video, by some of the street and vert skating that ‘Meninkmati’ contains.
A couple of the younger skaters that we ride with swear by this film, so if you’re closer to them in age than we are, there’s a good chance that this will become your new go-to skating video of choice.
It took them a while to make another skateboarding video that shook the skate scene to its core, but Alien Workshop scored another hit with their throwback video Photosynthesis which celebrated old school skateboarding and reminded us why we love skating in the first place.
Unless you skate and hit the streets on a regular basis, sometimes it’s hard to understand what skaters see in a video and why they fall for them as hard as they do, but even none skaters appreciate the beauty, symmetry, and artistry that ‘Photosynthesis’ celebrates and cherishes. It’s an open love letter to skateboarding from a company whose best years were still way ahead of them.
2nd To None
During their three year existence, Deca burned brightly and did things their way.
Formed by Daewon Song in nineteen ninety nine, they spent thirty six months climbing the skateboarding mountain and while they might not be memorialized or recalled as fondly as some of the other skate brands who followed them, one thing that they will be remembered for is 2nd To None
It’s a slightly surreal video and focuses on the team setting up the ramps that they’re about to skate in what appears to be an abandoned warehouse, but it’s worth checking out just to see Song in action, as he could, and still can fly with the best skaters in the world.
The only opinion that has ever really mattered to us as far as skating is concerned is Rodney Mullen.
He’s our skating guru and has been ever since we first saw him doing what always seemed to come so naturally to him. And Opinion is all about Rodney Mullen doing what only Rodney Mullen can.
It’s true that Mullen isn’t the only skater in this video, as Ben Pappas and a whole host of other skaters also make their presence felt, but when they’re next to Mullen they just seem to fade into the background noise.
From beginning to end, ‘Opinion’ is all about Rodney Mullen, and after you’ve spent an hour marveling at what he can do, you’ll probably come to the same conclusion as us. That the only skating opinion that matters is Rodney Mullens’.
And we’re back with Transworld for their second entry on the skateboarding video top forty because when all is said and done, even though we were never Transworld readers, they knew how to make a video and they knew how to shoot skaters in action.
And In Bloom is a testament to their skateboarding legacy.
Filmed in two thousand and two, it’s a film that’s driven by skating professionals talking about and openly displaying their admiration for other professionals while the skaters that are being discussed are caught on film doing what they do better than anyone else.
Evan Hernandez, Tony Trujillo, and Chris Cole shine and make us want to be better skaters every single time we watch them, which at the end of the day is what every great skateboarding video should do.
It should make you want to skate and make you want to skate better than you already do. It should make you want to skate like the people you’re watching. And that’s exactly what ‘In Bloom’ does.
PJ Ladd’s Wonderful, Horrible Life
Made by the much missed and often lamented Coliseum skate shop around the turn of the millennium, PJ Ladd's Wonderful, Horrible Life focuses on, that’s right you guessed it, long-standing professional skater Patrick John Ladd.
Even though the dizzying heights of his lengthy career were just a distant dot on the horizon when Coliseum made this video, Ladd’s incredible talent and ability to pull off the sort of moves that’ll make you seethe with jealousy before attempting to perform them yourself is immediately evident as soon as the film starts rolling.
Yes, other skaters do make an appearance in this video, namely Alex Sablone and Colin Fiske, but honestly, they don’t even figure on the same skating Richter Scale as Ladd and from the minute it begins right up until the final credits roll, this video is Patrick’s show.
It’s all about him, and in less than five minutes of watching him, you’ll be a fan for life. It really is that good. And so is he.
We have absolutely no idea what Flip Skateboards thought they needed to apologize for when they made this video unless they were just apologizing for how awful it made us feel when we saw how much better the skaters in it (including Alex Chalmers, Geoff Rowley, and Mark Appleyard) were than us.
Actually, come to think of it, that’s almost certainly what Flip was saying Sorry for.
Great skating, great music, and an often forgotten and neglected on-screen performance by the one and only John Lydon, acting as MC all combine to make a video that shares the same underground, raw urgency, and immediacy as the original Bones Brigade full-length films.
Punk rock and skating? It’s a great way to spend an hour of your time, just don’t blame us when you end up feeling ‘Sorry’ for yourself.
Chomp On This
We know, it seems like we’re obsessed with Transworld despite claiming that we never fans and that we barely read it, but even though we didn’t read the magazine, we did watch, religiously in most cases, the videos that they made. And Chomp On This is a bone fide skateboarding classic.
Unusually, it isn’t the skating that makes this video a must-watch, it’s the way it was filmed and put together. Created by the crème de la crème of the behind the scenes skateboarding talent that filled the pages of Transworld with the sort of high-velocity action shots that won them a legion of devoted fans the world over, ‘Chomp On This’ is a masterclass in skating cinematography and execution that just so happens to filled with a brace of incredible skaters who deliver the sort of breathtaking four-wheeled performances that make us want to hang our decks up and become accountants.
Trust us, this is one video that you don’t want to miss. Transworld, we came for the magazine, but we stayed for the videos, and after watching ‘Chomp On This’, you’ll be left wanting more. A lot more.
Dying To Live
Zero has always refused to compromise, they’ve never walked the path of least resistance, and more often than not, it’s meant that they’ve ended up taking more than their fair share of spills, knocks, and falls, but they’ve always got back up, dusted themselves down and got straight back on their boards.
And that’s what Dying To Live is all about, catching Zero and its skaters in the moments between success and failure.
In places it’s a hard watch, but ‘Dying To Live’ encapsulates the Zero spirit and shows Matt Mumford, Jamie Thomas, Lindsey Robinson, Ryan Bobier, Chris Cole, doing what they love to do and having the time of their lives.
It’s infectious and contagious, and if you spend too much time watching it, you’ll end up catching the Zero spirit…
When you’re on to a good thing, you don’t stop you carry on doing it for as long as you possibly can, and then push it a little bit further.
That was Spike Jonez and Girl’s philosophy when the former stepped up to the plate for the latter (even though he was one of the founders of the brand) for the third time for Yeah Right
Filled with all the deft flourishes that would later become Jonez trademark, ‘Yeah Right’ is a little experimental and different, but it still focuses on incredible skating and skaters, and when Eric Koston is on screen, you won’t be able to take your eyes off him, as he just shreds like a maniac.
When you’re in the mood to submerge yourself in a lesson in technical skating and want to take an hour or two out of your increasingly busy schedule to study some of the masters of four-wheeled perfection, Battalion should be right at the top of the list of your first videos of choice.
A lesson in the excellence of execution, and the absolute precision of incredible skating, ‘Battalion’ is an edge of your seat tutorial in how it should be done, and Chet Thomas, Mike Hastie, and Windsor James (among others) almost reinvent skating right in front of you. It’s a skating showdown for the ages, so buckle up and get ready for the ride of a lifetime…
Mosaic saw Habitat throw their hat into the skateboarding video ring and centers around the sort of energetic and frantic street skating that makes your heart beat a little faster and your pulse pound through your veins. The skating flows naturally and easily, nothing looks forced and the soundtrack provides the perfect backing for the on-screen action.
Sit back, relax and get ready to be blown away by Danny Garcia, Anthony Pappalardo, Danny Way, Fred Gall, Jason Dill, and all of the other skating stars of the ‘Mosaic’ show…
And That’s It…
And ‘Mosaic’ neatly brings us to the end of our selection of the forty best skateboarding videos ever made… Or it would, if we’d actually featured forty, but those of you paying attention, and who have been counting along with us, are probably screaming “But you’ve only talked about thirty videos” and you’re right, we have only listed thirty.
And so for those of you who have stuck with us and made it this far, these are the last ten skateboarding videos that every discerning and serious skater needs to watch… Enjoy!